Sunday, October 28, 2012


Welcome into our home!  Please join us again, as we sip, eat, chat, laugh and enjoy ourselves with some unique and eclectic wines, accompanied by food, food and more food and of course, a sinful dessert.  The main ingredient of the evening, bringing it all together, is friendship, laughter and a love of wine.

Normally, our Wine Group's Wine Night focuses on brown bagging a specific designated wine type, with definite parameters, and not unveiling what we are drinking until all wines have been adequately sipped, savored, discussed, rated and scored.  However, Tonight...Wine Night was designated as:  "Bring ANY good bottle of wine" night.  No restrictions! No brown bagging, no analysis, no rating, no competition.  Just an evening savoring a variety of eclectic and unusual wines to be enjoyed and sampled by all.

And if eclectic was the requirement for tonight's wines....they were just that. This evening melded the three ingredients for a successful gathering:  Wine....Food....Friends....all blending well together.  With wines from around the world, and around the state.

Let's get started:

The evening begins with a glass of Don Burns' (Westberg Cellars)
Willow White

As each guest arrived, so did the appetizers----which would have been enough for dinner itself!  Starting casually with appetizers, our guests were  introduced to something new, Westberg Cellars Willow White.  Don Burns (Westside of Paso Robles) is a small, handcraft winemaker, turning out some wonderful wines.  Willow White is the color of golden hay, aromatic and crisp.  Citrus, white peach, nectarine and melon. It is a creative blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.  A perfect start to the evening....made to sip on its own, or with our assorted appetizers and cheese.  A perfect start to what will follow.
Now easing into "the mood," dinner is served!   Bring a a good bottle of wine night is also "make your own taco night!"

Make your own Tacos (or taco salad)....with a variety
of fillings, salsas and condiments

And once everyone has a full plate.....let the wine tasting begin!

Tonight's line up of eclectic wines!

Wine Night usually presents us with a special surprise, something from the depths of Paul's substantial cellar.  Tonight is no exception:  A  1997 Brunello di Montalcino Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona.  This 100% Sangiovese was soft and silky....very nice subtle tones of red fruit and chocolate with some subtle spiciness.  It is always such a pleasure being treated to a rare and old wine that Paul pulls from his vaired collection.  Having the opportunity of sharing a fine bottle of wine that normally none of us would ever have the chance of tasting or purchasing adds a wonderful intangible to the evening.

Ontogeny comes from the Greek word "ontos", and translated means:  "The origin and development of an organism from conception to adulthood."  And that is exactly what Russel Bevan of Bevan Cellars does with this incredible Bordeaux blend. The 2009 Ontogeny, a blend of  45% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot, has quickly evolved from infancy in the bottle to a full fledged adult. It is light, supple, and sexy with teasing aromas and flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry,  floral and chocolaty on the edges.A tapestry of flavors.  If you haven't had Ontogeny, you should get a bottle, and you may experience a true wine epiphany.

Cousin Jacqueline, our evenings invited guest, pours a 2005 Darioush Cabernet Franc.  Delicious!  Full bodied, with an enticing nose. A hint of pepper and raspberry.....this Cabernet Franc, usually used in blending, stood well on it's own.  Normally expecting this to be intense, ageing has mellowed out the juice,   As Goldilocks would have said:  NOT too light, NOT too strong...but JUST RIGHT!

As always, there is a Doctor in the house, and good Dr. Mike contributed a 2007 Barossa Valley Bella's Garden Two Hands Shiraz.  It's been awhile since Dr. Mike has shared one of his Australian gems with us.  An integration of subtle cherry and red fruits...not too spicy, with some subtle minerality----good by itself, good with food and displaying the character of the Australia terroir where this is grown.  Smooth with a lingering finish....yummy Mike? Being a Shiraz (Syrah) it was fun to drink this side by side with the other contribution of the evening, also a Syrah:

Epoch's 2009 Block B Syrah.  Paso Robles of course HAD to be represented, and Dana and Matt did not disappoint:   BIG, BOLD, IN YOUR FACE...the Epoch 2009 Block B Syrah is simply described as 4th of July and New Year's Eve fireworks going off in your mouth.  big and chewy, a cacophony of rich, decadent flavors, one after the other.  Nothing subtle here like with the Two Hands.  You will either love this Syrah....or it's just not your style!

Are those chocolate/pumpkin Tarantulas?  YES!
along with a few other yummies

Chocolate and pumpkin personal cheesecakes, and chocolate cookie/pumpkin filled TARANTULAS! winking at you! Made from scratch by Cousin Jacqueline.....baker extraordinaire.  Of course, any great dessert must be accompanies by a dessert wine, in this case a 2009 Dunham Cellars late Harvest Riesling.  Having the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Eric Dunham up in Walla Walla, Washington earlier this summer...this was the perfect pairing with our dessert.  Pear and apricot, full and pleasing to the senses...this was the perfect ending to a perfectly wonderful evening of eclectic, unusual wines (and food)!

As usual, everyone went home happy and well sated.  Looking forward to the next meeting of our wine group, when we will be back in sync, with the next host determining a specific wine or type, where the competition to bring the #1 rated bottle of the evening will continue.  Of course, the bottom line seems to be, no matter which wine is voted #1 for the evening...they are all #1!

Now...that looks like one happy wine group!

Until the next time you can share our wine night....please leave your comments, email me, forward this blog, or post on your website.  And remember:

A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover.
~ Clifton Fadiman

As always, it is good to share our wine night with you.


Monday, October 1, 2012

PETITE SIRAH NIGHT!! It's about food, wine, friends

It's about Good friends, wine and food

Dear Friends and fans and wine lovers:  Please sit back, open your favorite bottle of wine (preferably a Petite Sirah), and sip along as I have you join another of our wine group nights!

Wonderful wines, food, fun, friends and some friendly competition as to who brings the "winning" wine.......of course, there are no losing wines!

The evening is hosted by Paul and Ellen...and this has been designated:  PETITE SIRAH NIGHT!
As we enter the den we are greeted, by chance, with a glass of Per Cazo Tres Blanc (the white wine for red wine lovers, as Lynne Teckman of Per Cazo describes it), a perfect prequel for what would be (another) memorable evening.  Along with the wine, a tantalizing spread of appetizers welcomed us, an eclectic array of small bites to stimulate the senses, and prepare us all for a bacchanal evening.

The evening's special guests, Ethan and Rebecca from Atascadero, have prepared a plethora of unusual appetizer treats, the standout being a duck prosciutto---OMG...amazing in every way!  One day Ethan will definitely own a restaurant, and treat his guests with unusually creative and tasty gourmet delights.

In addition to the duck prosciutto some of our other gastronomical delights included: jumbo shrimp, an assortment of gourmet cheeses, duck port mousse, marinated feta with capers, stuffed grape leaves, salmon collars, smoked salmon goat cheese spread, hummus, tasso ham, chili spiced pecans, almonds....and the list goes on.  (Calories not included).

Appetizers galore

and yet....more appetizers

the appetizers are a meal in themselves

After getting our fill of is time to wine!  Tonight's brown bag event features 5 Petitie Sirahs. No restrictions as to vintage, AVA or country of origin...only that it be 100% Petite Sirah.

Tonight's line up of Petite Sirah!  Ready to taste, enjoy,

The evening progresses as we sip, reflect upon, talk about and rate each bottle.  Some are huge and jammy, others subtle.  Long finishes.  Lighter, yummy, jammy, dark fruits, tobacco, leather, sexy, fruit forward, full mouth feel, good nose, balanced, young, layered, chewy, incredible.  Each person with his (or her) own analysis and opinion.  No "right" descriptions, no "wrong" description.  Just individual tastes and preferences coming together in a friendly competition, to share some really good wines and food.  Among jokes and laughter.

Agreements, disagreements, opposite opinions, concurring opinions, individual scores being recorded.  But one thing everyone can agree on:  All of the wines are wonderful.  And everyone is having a grand time.

It is now time to tally up....see which wine received the highest score of the evening.  The "winner" not having to put in their $$ contribution to the wine kitty we are building for a special night out.  (Invited guests don't contribute to the wine kitty).

We tally up....and then the suspense builds:  Unwrapping each bottle we get to see what we have been drinking, and how it is rated:

Bag #1:  Arata's, 2008, Napa
Bag #2:  David Fulton, 2006, Napa
Bag #3:  Jacob Franklin, 2009, Napa
Bag #4:  Alta Colina, 2010 Ann's Block, Paso Robles (about time there was a Paso wine in the group!).
Bag #5:  T-Vine, 2009 Frediani Vineyad, Napa.

The lineup revealed

OK...I may be Paso prejudiced, but 
 I was quite surprised that I was the only one to bring a Paso wine!  Especially
among all the Pasofiles in attendance!

Everyone holding their breath (and secretly praying that their wine will be #1-yes, there is a bit of ego involved here)....but wait..what's that...a SIDE bet on the table?  Oh yes, Dr. Mike has previously proclaimed that HE would bring the "winning" wine so just to add a little spice, I threw in a $5.00 challenge, that my wine would beat his!  (Yes..we are big betters here).

The scores are announced from lowest to highest.  They are close, but wait, what's THIS?  Re-adding, re-calculating...just to be certain. Yes!  This has NEVER happened before in the history of our wine-off!
Two wines receive an average of 95.4!      WE HAVE A TIE!

The #1 Wine(s) of the determined by our panel of sippers and wine lovers...turns out to be:

2009 Napa T-Vine.....
(Dana and Matt's)
Full bodied with an enticing nose.  Easy on the pallet without any harshness.
Full of dark fruit, blackberry quite evident and a hint of slight pepper on the finish.
The intense dark fruit flavors blend and evolve.  Full mouth feel but subtle and
somewhat sexy.  This wine is ready now and is a WOW!

along with Paso Robles' own  
Alta Colina 2010 Ann's Block Petite Sirah!

(The 2010 Ann's Block is anything but "petite."  This isn't a wine for sissies.
Right out of the bottle, there is definitely some hotness and rough edges.  But, it's very 
young, recently bottled, and needs time.  I decanted 4 hours, and all I can say is:  WOW!
A nice nose, and the first sips amaze the senses.  Firm, well balanced, the hotness gone,
Nicely smoothed out.  Predominant flavors of dark fruit, dark cherry, licorice, light hints of tobacco and leather on the very long finish.
This wine fills the mouth, is well structured and layered.
Given another few years in the bottle...I think the only way to describe it will be AMAZING.
Frankly.....get it, decant it, and it's already amazing.
Definitely a 95+)

Tonight's WINNERS

Mike:  Hand over that $5.00!  Way to go Paso!  Paso once again proves that they produce wines equal or superior to their Northern California Big Brother!  First it was the Cabernet in the now famous Daou blind tasting Napa vs. Paso (check out the U-tube video). Now it is Petite Sirah from Paso.

Fully sated and more course is now served:  Turkey and Beef Hot Dogs, with mango salsa, avocado mash and cilantro mayonnaise.  Accompanied with crepes stuffed with mushrooms in a cognac, Marsala reduction. And on the lighter side, a refreshing baby lettuce salad with watermelon.

Sitting around the table, eating (some more), drinking (some more), re-visiting the wines...laughing, enjoying the company and the "fruits" of the evening, it is another successful wine group gathering.

Someone is having too much fun!  Or too much wine?

There is ALWAYS lots of fun and laughter at wine night!

But wait...Ohhhhhhh...more food!  It's desert time!  And Pamela has made two different and delectable mini cheesecakes: One cherry, the other chocolate.  Sweet, flavorful, just enough for a bite or two so as not to over indulge.

Mini personal cheesecakes...sooo yummy and sooo moist

But...just when you think you have eaten all you can eat...Ethan and Rebecca bring out plates of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with Kiler Ridge late harvest olive oil (yes..I DID say olive oil), and lightly salted!  You would SWEAR you were eating vanilla ice cream with a butterscotch topping!  How amazing and different and creative!

Yes...that IS late harvest olive oil you see!  Not butterscotch sauce
though you would never know that by tasting

As the evening comes to a close----all of us are now ready for bed.  Now the planning begins for our NEXT wine night in November.  The writer and his wife will be hosting our November get together.  A wine type to be decided, rules to be laid down, side bets most likely to occur.  Food to be prepared and enjoyed.  But most of all, the great wines and food, bringing together a group of good friends along with another invited guest or two, to share in the whimsical, wonderful evening of wine.

If you have enjoyed this recap of our latest wineventure, please comment, email me, become a fan, post this on your website or FB page....I love to hear from you.

AND....Thank YOU, for joining us around the table in spirit, and being a part of our wine night!

Good wine makes good friends, and good friends makes any wine better.

Cheers to the next time,
(email me at: